On Wednesday, Judge Lee Yeakel of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas ruled that the state’s law severely restricting a type of second-trimester abortion procedure is unconstitutional, the New York Times reports.
The provisions in question, part of legislation known as Senate Bill 8, which passed the Texas House in May, and was set to take effect this year, would have restricted the most common kind of second-trimester abortion procedure referred to as “dilation and evacuation.”
Judge Yeakel wrote in his ruling that “Based on existing precedent alone the Act must fail. Once the Supreme Court has defined the boundaries of a constitutional right, a district court may not redefine those boundaries. Further, the role of the District Court is to preserve a right, not to search for a way to evade or lessen the right.”
Upon learning of the court’s decision, Texas’s attorney general’s office immediately announced it would appeal the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and to the Supreme Court, if it came to that.
The Times notes that the only alternative to D&E available for a woman getting an abortion in the second trimester, is an induction abortion (the doctor induces labor and the woman gives birth to a nonviable fetus), a procedure that is more painful for the patient to undergo, and costs more.
Yeakel addressed this apparently punitive facet of the now barred law in his ruling: “The court is unaware of any other medical context that requires a doctor—in contravention of the doctor’s medical judgment and the best interest of the patient—to conduct a medical procedure that delivers no benefit to the woman.”